The financial penalty recently imposed by the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association on Monmouth Park-stabled trainers who run at Suffolk Downs and then try to return did not keep anyone away from the starting gate in Massachusetts Aug. 6.
Monmouth Park has engaged Suffolk Downs in a battle over the entry box, and the horsemen feel caught in the crossfire.
Jockey Paco Lopez booted home a Monmouth Park record seven winners May 17, although the $103,000 Red Bank Stakes (gr. IIIT) eluded him when Hard Enough scored a 9-1 upset on the turf.
Recent Sunshine State Stakes winner Star Harbour again will try to carry his early speed to the wire when he faces an expected seven other sprinters in the $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes (gr. III) Dec. 28 at Gulfstream Park.
Robert LaPenta Coal Play, best known for nearly shocking Big Brown in last year's Haskell Invitational (gr. I), will look for his fourth win over the Monmouth Park main track when he takes on six rivals in the $300,000 Philip H. Iselin Stakes (gr. III) on Aug. 22.
The $300,000 Maryland Million Classic, headline event of the 23rd annual showcase for the offspring of Maryland sires Oct. 4, drew the top three finishers from the race last year, including defending champion Evil Storm.
Actin Good, a lightly raced 3-year-old gelded son of Yes It's True, has the advantage of being the lone graded stakes winner in the $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Handicap (gr. III) Dec. 15 at Calder Race Course, and drew the outside post in the 1 1/8-mile event on the main track.
When trainer Bobby Dibona saddled Actin Good for the $250,000 Pegasus Stakes (gr. III) on the Breeders' Cup undercard at Monmouth Park Oct. 27, he respected the horse more than the bettors who sent him off at odds of 10-1. Actin Good rewarded Dibona's faith with a gutsy frontrunning performance, fighting through a neck-and-neck stretch duel with Now A Victor to take the 1 1/8-mile event by a neck.
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